December 11, 2017

JF1196: From The NFL To The Cannabis Space - Hard Work And Self Reflection The Keys To Success with Marvin Washington

Marvin had an 11 year NFL career, 7.8 years longer than the average NFL career (3.2 years). Now a successful businessman in the cannabis space, Marvin says that his work ethic and self reflection is what separates himself from the average NFL career and entrepreneur. We’ll not only hear tips on how cannabis can and does help people everyday, but how we can separate ourselves from other entrepreneurs and investors. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


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Marvin Washington Background:

-Super Bowl Champion in 1998 with the Denver Broncos with an 11 year NFL career

-Former NFL Defensive end with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Denver Broncos

-Crusader for the healing power of cannabis and getting the league to consider the benefits

-Leading the movement of former athletes embrace it as solution for brain injuries and painkiller addiction

-Involved in a hemp-derived CBD product company, Isodiol, where he leads the promotion of their IsoSport line.

-IsoSports line is a hemp-based nutrition line supports both mind and body wellness in training and competition, used by high profile athletes in NBA, NFL, etc.  

-Say hi to him at  

-Based in San Diego, California


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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff.

With us today, Marvin Washington. How are you doing, Marvin?

Marvin Washington: I’m doing well, thanks for having me on.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, my pleasure. Nice to have you on the show. Best Ever listeners, I know all you football fans know who Marvin Washington is. If you’re not a football fan, let me give you a brief background on Marvin. He is a Super Bowl champion. He actually won the Super Bowl in 1998 with the Denver Broncos. He had a long and successful NFL career, and is now involved in five different companies as an entrepreneur and a businessman. One of them is Isodiol, which I will let him talk more about… With that being said, Marvin, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Marvin Washington: Yeah. My football was my football career; I retired in 2000. After that I went to the financial industry, we started out with some big houses like Merrill Lynch, MetLife, then I went over to boutique firms, and about five years ago I got introduced to the cannabis space. I call it a space because it’s not an industry yet, because we’re not federally regulated by any of industries as far as [unintelligible [00:03:21].27] what have you.

So I got introduced to it, I did a deep dive into it, because I didn’t know the difference between THC and TLC, because I don’t consume cannabis, and I still don’t… But learning about the medicinal benefits and learning the full spectrum of what the plant can do, I went into it with both feet, and I’m happy that I’m here.

Joe Fairless: Can you tell us what the company does and what’s your role?

Marvin Washington: The company is Isodiol International, and they’re a supplier of Isolate, of CBD, and they have all types of products that they have, from water to pain cream to beauty products, to tinctures, to vapes… The full spectrum that you can have. I got introduced to Isodiol about two years ago; we talked and we did a joint venture, and came up with something that was in my wheelhouse – IsoSPort, which is a sports nutritional line that is geared towards athletes, and we have some products in there line recovery water, cream and what have you… And everybody that uses the product, they’re really happy with it.

Then about six months ago Isodiol – there’s a [unintelligible [00:04:33].09] up in Canada, and everybody put their companies in there. I’m still part of Isodiol IsoSport, but I’m part of Isodiol international, and there’s Laguna Blends, which was a skincare product company; we’ve got  Pot-o-Coffee, who makes infused coffees and teas, we have Isodiol, and we have — Jesus, there’s one more company that [unintelligible [00:04:57].28] but Isodiol was going to be a [unintelligible [00:05:02].09] not only in North America, but also in South America and Europe and Australia also.

Joe Fairless: You said a couple things… One, just for my education – what’s CBD stand for?

Marvin Washington: I’m sorry, CBD is Cannabidiol. There’s two main compounds in the cannabis plant – one is THC, which everybody knows gets you high and gets you stoned, and CBD is non-psychotropic, so it doesn’t get you high, doesn’t get you stoned, and it helps out the kids that have like the epileptic strokes and seizures, it helps out cancer patients, it helps out soldiers that PTSD, athletes that have CTE or the closed-head issue, diabetes, blood pressure – you name it. And we’re not making medical claims, these are facts; that’s what it helps with.

So that’s the main part that I’m on – the CBD side, because as I said before, I don’t consume cannabis to get high, but I definitely use CBD.

Joe Fairless: Got it. So the products that you were mentioning, like the water for athletes, things like that – an athlete in the NFL or NBA could consume that and their pee would be fine?

Marvin Washington: Yes, because in the sports league they’re testing for the THC, and the NFL and the major sports leagues over here haven’t gotten that far, because CBD is still a grey area. But water, the World Anti-Doping Association that governs all Olympic athletes all over the world, they just came out with a big announcement last month that they’re taking CBD off the banned list and athletes can use it now, and they’re gonna start using it… Because we have CBD cannabinoids in our own body. There’s something called the endocannabinoid system, and that’s the one that regulates our body and gives us homeostasis, so to speak. But this thing, I want it to be researched and developed, and we’ll see what it can really do. But I know that athletes should be taking CBD, and if there’s ever a sport that should be experimenting with cannabis, whether it’s THC or CBD, it’s football.

Joe Fairless: Yeah. And maybe rugby too, right?

Marvin Washington: Well, any contact sport.

Joe Fairless: Right, I know.

Marvin Washington: And the second-highest incidence of concussions are high school soccer players.

Joe Fairless: I would have not got that correct on a trivia question.

Marvin Washington: [laughs] Yeah, a lot of people do not know that. So anybody in a contact sport, especially when they’re putting their head in play – we want them to use CBD because the government has that patent, and the patent is patent 6630507, that says “CBD is an antioxidant and neuroprotective for the brain in relationship to concussions.” So the government knows about it, and we’re just looking for this whole cannabis prohibition then to be lifted, and we can really study this natural plant that we’ve been medicating with for thousands of years.

Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about you as an entrepreneur. Let’s take a step back from this particular company and talk a little bit more macro-level… You as an entrepreneur. So I’ve interview other NFL players or former players, and one thing that they’ve said – and not just NFL, but NBA and WNBA – is that when you’re in the professional sport, that’s your life, and really, you almost have to attach your identity to it, because it’s all-consuming. So when you leave, one of the challenges is reinventing yourself and that identity that you attached to yourself. And I’m asking you this question not because I have a lot of listeners who are former NFL players that need some help, but I have a lot of listeners who do have full-time jobs in an industry, whether it’s finance or advertising or whatever, and they’re looking to reinvent themselves into real estate, and being a full-time real estate investor… So how did you reinvent yourself and your identity from one industry to another?

Marvin Washington: Wow… I think that I might have been a little different; the average NFL career is only 3.2 years, and I played 11 years. In the middle of that career, I started thinking about what am I going to do next. The NFL had set up this internship program and I did an internship with Wall Street Journal, I did an internship with Reebok… Which gave me an introduction to the corporate world. So towards the end of my career I started thinking about what I wanted to do, and one of the best things that happened to me was when I was leaving the 49ers, I met with Bill Walsh, who’s an iconic legendary coach, and he told me “Marvin, whatever you do, get to doing it. Don’t sit around, get to doing it.”

So after a season I took about three months off, and the market corrected itself and I was kind of upset about that… I said “Maybe I can do this myself”, and I reached out to my advisor and he got me on with MetLife; starting with insurance, then I got my securities license… And the whole thing is that the lessons that I took from football, I just took them to the corporate world. So if anybody is in a different field and they wanna transition, still take whatever you’re doing and the things that you’re doing that makes you successful there, take some of those fundamentals to your next venture, your next career move in life, and go at it 100%. You can’t be half way in or half way out. Go at it 100%.

There’s gonna be some ups and downs, just like there is in professional sports, but you persevere and you keep going, and eventually that new venture becomes who you are.

I’m known more for what I’ve done over the last 15 years, versus what I did in my previous like as a professional football player.

Joe Fairless: And what are those sports lessons that you learned that you are now applying as an entrepreneur?

Marvin Washington: The biggest one is you’ve got to give 100%. You HAVE to give 100%, because a) you have to really work hard and apply yourself, because in the financial industry that I was in, if you think you’re gonna work 9 to 5 and have success, you’re misleading yourself. But I worked as much in the financial industry as I did in my football career. It was 12-hour days in my football career, and it was the same in the financial industry, and I knew not to ever give up. I knew that there were some down periods, but you have to just kind of keep your head down and keep going, and the biggest thing that I can say is even when you’re not having success, do things that are gonna make you successful.

It’s just like, if I went out in my backyard right now and planted a seed, the next day I’m back out there I still have to plant that spot, and then a tree is gonna grow and eventually I’ve got a plant I need to be consistent with every day, and eventually it’s gonna bear fruit. So that’s what you have to do in your career, because I’ve seen too many people give up, and it’s like “Did you really give it an honest shot?” You have to go, you have to keep going day after day.

Joe Fairless: When you are giving it 100% and you’re not getting the results, what do you do?

Marvin Washington: Well, make a half-time adjustment and see what you can do to be successful and be around successful people. One of the things I learned at MetLife and Merrill Lynch – if your client’s making $40,000/year, you’re gonna make $40,000 a year. I had some good mentors; always be open to learn, go into work or go into your new career  like you don’t know anything, but soak it all in there, still have the basic fundamentals, and that will give you a shot at success; I can’t say it’s gonna give you success, but I know it would give you a shot at success. But there’s no way that you’re gonna be successful without the things I learned in sports, which is hard work and consistency.

Joe Fairless: Can you tell us a story of a half-time adjustment, either during half-time or actually in business where you had to make that adjustment, and what the results were?

Marvin Washington: Well, in business, when I first started out in the financial industry – I like to dress up and look like a financial planner and advisor, but I was doing 9 to 5, and it was reflected in my paycheck. So the whole thing with me in sports – I didn’t give myself a backdoor, so my half-time adjustment was to come in early and to leave late, and to work weekends, and always be working. That’s something that I did in football – if something wasn’t working in the first half, we’d go in and make a half-time adjustment and go from there. It has to be on the fly. But you have to be able to adapt, because things would always come up unexpectedly, and as long as you’ve put in the work and you’re focused, you can overcome them.

If something is not working and you like what you’re doing, try something else or go with somebody else that has done it and that is successful, and follow the path… Because no matter what field you’re getting into, you’re not reinventing the wheel; maybe with cannabis, but you’re not really inventing the wheel, because eventually this is gonna become an industry also, so the same skillsets and the same fundamentals that are necessarily in the corporate world are gonna be necessary in the cannabis space.

The thing that I put away and I tell people is to work hard and be consistent… Whether it’s in the financial industry, the financial gods will bless you; the cannabis gods will bless you. You’ve gotta go at it. If you’re giving it a half effort, you’re gonna give that back.

Joe Fairless: As far as working hard and that consistent piece, what do you do consistently?

Marvin Washington: I have my schedule, I’m set to my habits. I get up early, and I always plan my day the day before. Then on the weekends I review what I did the previous week, and see what’s ahead and what I can do better… Because especially in this cannabis space, things change day to day, week to week, month to month, and it’s tricky in this space because rules are different with different cities and municipalities. Cannabis may be legal in Colorado, but Denver’s rules and regulations are different than Colorado Springs, and Colorado Springs are different than Boulder. You always have to be steady on your toes and malleable, but the whole thing is getting back to the fundamentals. Be consistent, have your goals, don’t go with the fads and the trends. You know what you’re trying to accomplish, so go after that every day. That’s what I do.

One of the things I learned in football is I write down a list and I study. If I’m looking at a new company or meet with new people, I’ve already done my research on them, because that’s what I did in sports, and that’s going up against [unintelligible [00:15:59].28] I have to study them. That’s the way I learned, and that’s just the way I brought some of that to the corporate world that I’m in now.

Joe Fairless: Digging in a little bit – or maybe a lot of bit – on the planning the night before and reviewing the previous week… When you plan the night before for the next day, will you tell us exactly what you do in terms of keyboard, notepad, bullet points… What does that look like?

Marvin Washington: The same thing, all of it. On my laptop, and I have an old school planner, and I visualize, because when I was in spots, the Saturday before the game or the week before the game I would visualize myself making [unintelligible [00:16:40].23] in certain situations… So this is the same thing. I visualize myself being successful. I prepared for this interview, I prepare for all my meetings that I go to, and I visualize certain talking points, and I just stay on the talking points and try to get the narrative that I wanna get across. That’s the way I prepare… And it may not be for everybody, but if you’re not prepared, I don’t think you’re giving yourself a chance to be successful… Definitely not against me, because I’m gonna know everything I need to know about your company and about you, and I’m going to use that to control the narrative.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with good people and have good companies, and Isodiol is an excellent company, excellent people… Smart businessmen, so we’re a team and we go out and we get things done

Joe Fairless: As far as now reviewing the previous week, what’s your process for that?

Marvin Washington: It’s on a Sunday. A habit that I picked up when I was with Merrill Lynch is reviewing the week and seeing what I could have done better, because one of the things is that you don’t wanna have regrets in business or in life, and seeing what you could have possibly done better. And if I didn’t close an account, I would do a review and see what could I have done different. It’s the same thing in this industry, with the different companies that I’m with. I’m always reflecting and seeing what I could have done better, because the buck stops with me.

Joe Fairless: Is it challenging to have that self-assessment on a regular basis, to identify things that you could have done better?

Marvin Washington: No, this is the way that I’ve always been taught – you always have to do a deep self-assessment, because sometimes when there’s an issue, it’s not other people; you’re the common denominator in that [unintelligible [00:18:40].13] from girlfriend to girlfriend, wife to wife, job to job, what’s the common denominator in there? So I think people should do that all the time. If you’re really honest with yourself, you can see where you can be at fault. If you do a self-assessment all the time, you shouldn’t be at fault for 100% of the time, but there are some things that you can always improve on, because everybody can always learn and everybody can always improve, no matter what age they’re at, and no matter what industry they’re in.

Once you feel like you can master something and you’ve got it, you probably don’t, and you probably need to adjust or get out of that space entirely, if you think like you know it all.

Joe Fairless: When you identify an area of improvement for yourself, what do you do at that point?

Marvin Washington: I take action on it; I try to improve it and do something better. Sometimes it can come down to something like “I didn’t listen enough.” You’re in a meeting and you wanna get your point across, but having a conversation is a two-way deal, so it’s listening and it’s talking. I like to talk, I can talk a lot, but sometimes I have to listen; sometimes I have to see things from a different point of view, instead of just my point of view. The way that I see things – and I think I’m kind of lucky like this – I see things vertically or horizontally, and then I can see them from above. That’s when I’m doing my reflection, and even thinking ahead. I’m trying to look at it in all ways and get the whole picture, to make sure that I’m getting it… Making sure that the issue is not coming from our side, or coming from me. But I think everybody should do that; I think you should do that in your relationships, I think you should do that in business, I think you should do that in your religion… Do that self-assessment.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, I love that. I completely and whole-heartedly agree with you on that. Based on your experience as an entrepreneur, what is your best advice ever to other entrepreneurs out there? My audience, people listening, the Best Ever listeners, they’re real estate investors, but we’re all entrepreneurs… As a real estate investor, we’re an entrepreneur, so what is your best advice ever?

Marvin Washington: You’re running your own business, and so you have to be true and honest and put in the hard work. You may not have success, but you’re not giving yourself a chance if you don’t put in the hard work, have some fundamentals, have some fundamental things and focus that you’re gonna do every day. Like I said, watering that plant every day, you have to do that. If you’re in real estate, if you have to make contact with 100 people a day, [unintelligible [00:21:12].26] make contact with 100 people a day in order to make 10 sales a month…

The other thing about entrepreneurs – salesmen. Because whether you call me a financial advisor, or investment advisor, or a real estate person or whatever, you’re a salesman because you have to give the check. Don’t be afraid to say no; you have to get your no, but don’t be afraid to get your no… But you have to get it. Don’t be afraid to approach anybody, be consistent in what you do, have a fundamental focus, and go in there and you’re giving yourself a chance to be successful.

Joe Fairless: I love that. We’re gonna do a Lightning Round. Your answers don’t have to be quick, and in fact one of the questions I ask you, I don’t think you’ll be able to have a quick answer (maybe). Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round? First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:22:07].13] to [00:22:58].20]

Joe Fairless: Okay, Marvin, here’s the question I was thinking of… You mentioned “Put in the hard work as entrepreneurs.” You may not have success, but at least put in the hard work and be consistent, so you can set yourself up to be as successful as possible. So what’s a venture as an entrepreneur that you’ve done that completely flopped?

Marvin Washington: When I left football, I tried to be concert promoter, and I tried to throw money behind it without throwing work and experience, and relying on other people. I’ve learned since then that if I’m going to cook the meal, I should be able to buy the groceries, too. Saying that, I need to be involved at each level and be in there to make sure that I’m bringing everything I can to make it a success. That one right there, I failed at.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Marvin Washington: Oh, all the time. I’m known for it, whether I’m giving to the homeless every day that I see them – and I always give money. I volunteer my time; as a matter of fact, for Thanksgiving and Christmas — I can’t think of the last Thanksgiving that I haven’t given back and helped out at a homeless shelter. That’s my way of helping out humanity, because I think we were put on this earth to help each other, and the way I do that is through my charity of giving to the less fortunate. It says in the book “It’s better to give to receive”, and I take that as “I’m in a position to give, so I do give.”

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners either get in touch with you or learn more about your company/companies and get involved with your companies?

Marvin Washington: I’m an open book. Most people find me on social media, or they can go to the Isodiol website… But I’m social media platforms and people can reach out to me; I don’t have a closed page. You can reach out to me, and I’ll answer to your question any way I can. I’m always trying to help people and I always tell people I’ll help you out any way I can, because I think to whom much is given, much is required. I keep saying that like I’m a Christian, and I’m not; I’m more like [unintelligible [00:25:08].01] but there are some fundamentals in each religion that I think you can go by.

Like I said, if anybody reached out to me, I’ll help them out any way I can, especially if they’re trying to ge into the cannabis space.

Joe Fairless: Marvin, thank you for being on the show. This has been a powerful interview for entrepreneurs, and as entrepreneurs and real estate investors, because most of us have been in other industries and we’ve needed to pivot and get into real estate in some form or fashion, and how you were able to do it… I mean, you mentioned you got a couple internships – The Wall Street Journal, Reebok, but fill in the blank, just get an internship, get that experience wherever it is, and start. As Bill Walsh told you, “Whatever you do, get to doing it”, and just be immersed in it, and identify and take away the fundamentals that you see others having success in the industry – whatever they’re doing, take those fundamentals and apply it.

Then also the sports lessons that you learned as an entrepreneur that you’ve applied to business – give 100% and work hard… It’s not a 9-to-5. Just like you had success in your previous life, it’s 12-hour days, it’s putting in the work, giving it 100% and being consistent with it. And I love the visualization aspect of this, I love how you talked about that, as well as how you do a recap for the week and identify areas for improvement.

Thanks for being on the show. I’m grateful that we had a conversation. I hope you have a best ever day, Marvin, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Marvin Washington: Thank you, take care.

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